No. 250.
Mr. McLane to Mr. Bayard .

No. 437.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 432, of June 17, I have the honor to inform you that I have continued to use my personal good offices to obtain the release of Baron Seillière, and that his counsel, Mr. Kelly, to whom I referred in that dispatch, has conferred very fully with the minister of the interior on the subject.

Meanwhile the friends of Baron Seillière have engaged in a very active crusade against the law in virtue of which he was confined, several newspapers and members of the Chamber of Deputies participating therein, which under their direction assumed the form of an attack upon the ministry of foreign affairs and the interior and led to an interpellation upon the subject in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday, the result of which was an acknowledgment on the part of the minister of the interior that the law was defective and ought to be amended, but that it was his duty to execute it and that no fault whatever could be found with the manner in which it had been executed in Baron Seillière’s case.

He had been confined in a private asylum by the police authorities upon the certificate of the two physicians required by law and he had been duly visited by the prefect of police, under whose jurisdiction these private asylums are placed, and that there could be no reasonable doubt of his insanity.

He concluded his statement by offering to the Chamber amendments to the law already adopted by the Senate, and the Chamber, by a unanimous vote, accepted his explanation and afterwards voted the immediate consideration of the amendments.

Referring to your telegram of June 10, authorizing me to use my good offices, I telegraphed you yesterday, before this debate took place, [Page 312] that my personal good offices would not obtain release, the confinement being in conformity with French law, and the Government’s inquiry having established present lunacy.

I had already been informed by Mr. Flourens that these inquiries had been instituted by the minister of the interior, and this morning, referring to my telegram of yesterday, I telegraphed to you that in the evening the minister of the interior explained in the Chamber the legality of the action taken under the present law and introduced a bill for its modification, upon which urgency was voted.

The minister of foreign affairs assured me yesterday afternoon that legal measures would be taken for release when insanity no longer existed.

He further called my attention to the provisions of law which authorized the wife or children, or even the friend of Seillière, to obtain his release when actual insanity no longer existed, which provisions were independent of the appointment of the curator at the suggestion of the administration to which the minister of the interior referred in the Chamber, and to which I have called the attention of Seillière’s counsel.

In my intercourse with Mr. Flourens, though I did not permit my intervention to exceed the limit prescribed in your instruction, I discussed with him the question, which was very fully presented by Baron Seillière’s counsel, as to whether his declared intention of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States deprived him of his French citizenship, and Mr. Flourens did not conceal from me his decided opinion adverse to such a construction of international law. He said that the French Code, in contemplating the loss of French citizenship, assumed that a new citizenship had been acquired, and I am very sure that had I been instructed to demand Seillière’s release it would have been refused, and I should have been involved in a discussion of a great international question, embarrassed by the facts and circumstances of a case involving the police and health laws of this country.

I have, etc.,

Robert M. McLane.